A few subtle touches spice...
A few subtle touches spice up the vintage interior. The Grant wheel, CD player, and custom seat skins are just enough to make you take a second look.
What's a person to do when they realize that the car of their dreams is in such a state of disrepair that it's at the point of no return? If you're Renee Tuckwiller of Auburndale, Florida, you do the only thing you can think of-restore your parts car.
The initial role of the '64 Valiant Signet 200 you see here was to donate the required sheetmetal to restore a Valiant convertible that Renee convinced her husband she just had to have-confused yet? It all started in 2003, when Renee found the convertible Valiant on eBay and bought it. It was a fun little driver that needed some work, but the key word was driver. She could get in it and go to cruise nights in her own car, which made her happy. her husband, Marty, had a 440, Six-Pack-powered Challenger that she frequently got to ride shotgun in . . . but riding shotgun is not something Renee likes to do.
After driving the convertible for a couple of months, Renee decided it needed to be restored, so it was disassembled and sent to Blast-Off media blasting in Orlando, Florida, for paint removal. the blasting was complete, but so was the metal removal. Yep, the little driver was held together with plastic filler and luck.
After the media blasting, the convertible and the parts car were taken to the local body shop. But when the shop owner refused to cut the parts car because it was in too good of shape, the Tuckwillers got to thinking, Maybe we should just fix the hardtop?
So the hardtop was given a quick coat of paint by a local Maaco to make it shiny. next up was the interior. Herman's Auto upholstery in Auburndale, Florida, was charged with recovering the seats with a custom covering of vinyl and velour; the dash brightwork was rechromed; and an aftermarket AM/FM/CD player was mounted in the dash.
Not much was needed when it came time to work on the engine. The Tuckwillers added some chrome tinwork, a Holley intake and carburetor, and power steering. the original engine for the hardtop was in good enough shape that accessorizing it was all that was needed. all the power steering parts-pump, gear box, and hoses-were bought at a local NAPA. hunting before you buy pays off.
The Valiant spent the next couple of years racking up miles going to shows and cruise nights around the country.
Then Renee decided it was time to "change it up," so to speak. This time, it was the hardtop that went to Blast Off and then to Sean at Blew Devil Rods and Customs in Lakeland, Florida, for the paint work. Sean covered the bottom half in Light Blue Pearl from an '03 Chrysler Pacifica, and the top received a slathering of Deep Forest Green from a '96 Dodge Ram.
So there you have it, the story of how a parts car became a cruiser with the help of a convertible. Who says that parts cars are a nuisance?
As far as anyone can tell,...
As far as anyone can tell, the 273 in Renee's Valiant has never been taken apart. the chrome pieces, Holley induction, and the power steering are add-ons.
The car as it looked when...
The car as it looked when the body shop guy refused to cut it for parts.
'64 Valiant Signet 200
How much engine does a Valiant really need? According to the factory in 1964, 273 ci is plenty. as far as anyone can tell, the engine in this car has never gotten a rebuild, so the Holley intake and carburetor are the only "new" parts-and they're vintage.
The transmission was shifted via buttons on the dash in 1964. This Valiant's original unit is still shifted that way.
It's got the little 7 1/4 rearend, and your guess about gears is as good as anyone's. Whatever's in there has been there since it was built.
The factory suspension uses a few rebuilt pieces because if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Here's where things get hi-tech-aftermarket, factory-looking disc brakes up front. That's it, nothing fancy.
Yes, we know 14-inch Rallye wheels never came on early A-Bodies, but they look good enough that they should have.
"I like my little car. I can get in and drive it wherever I want."-Renee Tuckwiller
The paint on the Valiant is far from stock, but at least it's all-Mopar. The top is Deep Forest Green taken from a '96 Dodge Ram, and the bottom is Medium Blue Pearl that was a factory paint on the 2000 Pacifica.
Although it looks fairly stock, the interior features just enough modifications to make the drive more enjoyable. For starters, the AM/FM/CD player gives the required tunes, and the custom seat skins give not only a good-looking place to sit, but also a fairly comfortable one. Facing the driver is a Grant steering wheel and rechromed dash trim.
Considering it was supposed to be a parts car, the body is in really good shape with minimal rust repair and a couple of . . . who are we kidding, it had quite a few door dings.